May 16, 1923

PRO

George Gibson Coote

Progressive

Mr. COOTE:

1 would ask the minister-

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

Who is first?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I would ask the minister whether he thinks it was right or wrong that these industries have been built up under a system of protection?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

I can answer in one word' I think it was wrong.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

Why then is my hon.

friend starting to build up another by the same system, namely, artificial silks?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

I say it was wrong; I believe that industry would have prospered without the extreme protection offered in many cases.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

That was not the question.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

My hon. friend says it is out of the question.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

No, I said that was not the question. But I will leave the first one and take his answer. Will he answer the second now?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

My hon. friend asks me if silks are to be protected-

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

No, I do not.

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

-to the extent of 30 per cent.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

No, 1 did not say that. I said if it was wrong-

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

I have got my hon. friend's question; will he permit me to answer it? There has opened up in Canada an industry for the manufacture of silk. Let me say to my hon. friend that I have grave doubts whether we need so much protection for the silk industry. But at the same time, unless we are prepared to reduce with one stroke the protection that exists upon silks, then in fairness I think we should let the industry start on the same basis as those already existing.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

It is the duty my hon.

friend is putting on that I am asking about. If it is wrong to encourage industry by protection, why is he starting in now to encourage another?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

My hon. friend, of course, will say that the logical answer for me to make is to reduce both, and then see whether this industry would start or not. He will agree that if it is necessary- and those who are engaged in the industry say that it is necessary-that that industry should have protection at the moment, then in fairness to the man who wishes to start a new industry of a similar or almost identical character some protection should be afforded so long as the government are prepared to leave that protection on. So far as I am concerned, I want to know definitely the reason why it is necessai-y that so heavy a protection is required for any industry in Canada. But let me go back to my original statement. I do not believe and I have had nothing to convince me, that so heavy a rate of protection is required as is given to many of the industries existent in this country today. But it is also true that many industries that have enjoyed protection have built up their business under that system. We find ourselves in peculiar conditions in Canada to-day, depressing conditions not only with regard to agriculture but business as well, and much as I would desire reductions in many lines, particularly on the commodities

The Budget-Mr. Stewart (Argenteuil)

that enter so much into the lives of our people, reductions that would mean something considerable in the cost of living to the people ot Canada, it is not my desire nor is it the desire of this government at this moment to jeopardize any of these industries while they aie passing through such a trying period as they are to-day. That I think is a fair answer to my hon. friend.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Arthur Meighen (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MEIGHEN:

I see it has some bearing on the first, but what bearing it has on the second beats me. If it is a wrong system, why recommence it with respect to any industry?

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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

I think I have answered my hon. friend's question fairly. I have said on the other hand that I consider the conditions serious, and I think he and any hon. gentlemen who know anything about business conditions in Canada will agree with me that this is a serious time in the business life of Canada. My hon. friend may say that that is the result of a change of government. I have sometimes heard him say that the Liberal party are responsible for a great many misstatements made throughout Canada. Let me say this to him: I do not believe the Liberal party, or the Progressive party, or any other party, was responsible for his difficulties on 6th December over a year ago. Perhaps he may apply the same remark to me. I have no complaint to offer for the treatment that I received. The people of my province desired that someone else should take the reins of government, and I was quite willing that that should be done. I am wTatching with a great deal of interest the results of the new order of things in my province. I am also watching with a great deal of interest the effect of the new order of things in the province of Manitoba. I do not say that in any critical spirit, but with the hope that perhaps they may be able to give a better brand of government than we were able to give in the past.

With regard to the condition of industry in Canada, I do not think the government would have been warranted in going* a great deal further in the way of reductions than they have gone in the budget brought down to parliament on this occasion. I have no doubt that we shall be criticized, in fact, we have been criticized already, because we did not go a great deal further in making reductions. While I believe that the tariff plays a very important part in the lives of the people of Canada and in the economic condition of our country, I do not believe that it is entirely responsible for all our difficulties. Sometimes

we turn our eyes away deliberately from the real facts. In many cases we are forgetful that inflation is responsible for a large part of our difficulties. We are forgetful that the drought in western Canada is also responsible for a fairly large amount of our difficulties, forgetful, too, of many other things that have contributed to the present condition. We are forgetful of extravagance, for instance. We must get away from that because I see in the future the strongest kind of competition coming from every part of the world. Our transportation systems have made competitors of all our neighbours, whether they be near or far. Furthermore, and here I think my right hon. friend will agree with me because I have heard him make the statement repeatedly almost every country in the world has been increasing its protective duties. That makes it incumbent on those who are charged with the responsibility of government to go somewhat slowly in the direction of reductions, but as a member of this government I want to say this: We are going in that direction, slow though my Progressive friends may think our progress. They may say that it does not amount to anything. Well, if that is the case, it should be a grain of comfort for the protectionists. Our Progressive friends may attack us on the ground that we are not going far enough, but I say to them that if they had upon their shoulders the responsibility of office at a time like this they would consider very seriously before making further reductions. I hope that in the very near future, however, it will be possible without injury to business to make reasonable reductions in the customs tariff of Canada. While perhaps I am not thoroughly convinced that more reductions could not have been made, I for one believe that we have gone as far as we reasonably could have been expected to go at this particular time, bearing in mind the conditions prevalent in Canada.

I want to associate myself with the statement of the hon. Minister of Agriculture yesterday that he did not understand that the statement made by the Minister of Finance on the tariff was a finality. I did not so understand it, nor do I think the Minister of Finance meant to convey that idea. If my hon. friend were sitting where the Finance Minister sits and were being daily interviewed by business as well as agricultural interests throughout Canada, and listened to the varied cases presented, I think that they would say with all the information before them that the Finance Minister had gone as far as he thought it was safe for him to go at this particular time.

2800 COMMONS

The Budget-Mr. Stewart (Argenteuil)

I want to deal for a moment or two with the question of immigration. My hon. friend the ex-Minister of Finance (Sir Henry Drayton) was anxious to know when there would be a change in this particular department. Well, I have made some statement with respect to that. I have the responsibility of quite a number of departments, and I would not worry a very great deal should my leader decide at any moment to make changes. Just let me cover the situation as it exists so far as immigration to this country is concerned. Hon. gentlemen opposite say that it is unwise to place people upon the land in Canada. I argued some weeks ago in this parliament that there was a vast difference between the man who came here with a respectable amount of money and settled on the land, a man without any encumbrances hanging around his neck, and the individual who had accumulated a great deal of debt had taken upon himself large obligations for its repayment. If the man of that first class I mentioned is properly located, I said then and I still think, he will have a fair chance for success. I do not anticipate that there will be a very great difference between the price of the commodities that he must purchase for use in his business and the selling price of the products of his farm. Of course, as the Minister of Agriculture pointed out, the price of most of his products is regulated by conditions in the markets of the world, while the prices of the commodities that he uses are usually regulated by conditions at home. That situation will continue, but I still think that in the reorganization and readjustment of business, in the readjustment of labour that must take place, freight rates will play a very important part in the matter of cost and they are bound to play a much more important part in the future. A reduction of freight rates will count fully as much, in my opinion, as even a drastic reduction in the customs tariff to-day in the lives of the people of Canada. What my hon. friend pointed out yesterday certainly could be done and if followed up by a reasonable reduction in the customs tariff the things hoped for will come about. They undoubtedly will come about if the statements of my hon. friends opposite are to be taken at par as to what they propose to do in the future, and also what may be expected in a reasonable way from this government if we remain in office.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Richard Burpee Hanson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HANSON:

I agree with what the minister has said as to the effect of a drastic reduction in the freight rates. May I ask

[Mr. C. A. Stevrart.3

him what efforts this government are making at this time to bring about that desirable condition of affairs?

Topic:   THE BUDGET
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LIB

Charles A. Stewart (Minister of Immigration and Colonization; Minister of Mines; Minister of the Interior; Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs)

Liberal

Mr. STEWART (Argenteuil):

If it is true, and I am accepting the statement as true, that the increased cost of labour to the railways represents more than 60 per cent of the advance in the cost of operation, and that there has only been so far a reduction of less than 20 per cent in that cost-I am speaking now of a government owned institution where there are no profits going to the investment but rather a loss incurred-it will come about in a reduction of labour costs. Let me ask my hon. friend, does he think that the government of Canada, or any other government, can regulate the cost of labour upon railways or upon anything else? I do not think they can, nor do I think they would be warranted in trying to do it. These things will adjust themselves, they will be bound to do so. I have been accused in Canada of preaching deflation, but I have no thought that living conditions will be worse for labour even if a further reduction is made in the cost of labour on our railways and in other lines of activity. But that reduction will undoubedly come. One of the reasons why it has not come earlier is, perhaps. that in the country to the south of us there is an inflation which is probably unprecedented in the history of the United States. That will undoubtedly go on for a time. But it is causing considerable uneasiness in Canada because it is attracting many of our best citizens from the Dominion. However, I hope and predict that they will come back to us when the period of inflation in the United States comes to an end.

Dealing with immigration let me say this. Take the statement, if it were made, and I do not believe in newspaper statements on all occasions, #iat we need co-ordination in immigration work, well, with respect to that let me enumerate some of the things that I have been endeavouring to do, very imperfectly perhaps, possibly it may be said that I have made a very serious failure; but I do not believe that the government of Canada would be warranted in borrowing large sums of money to attract people to Canada and through the medium of loans placing them on the land; I believe they should be attracted in a legitimate way. I believe somewhat with my Progressive friends that the best immigration agent you can have is a happy and contented settler; and with that thought in mind and keeping it constantly

The Budget-Mr. Stewart (Argenteuil)

before me, I have endeavoured to so arrange conditions that the settler will write back to the country from which he came advising other people to come and settle in Canada. I do not think anyone will quarrel with me about that. But certainly you could not invite labour to come to Canada when, as last winter, you had unemployment in every city in the Dominion, when various Canadian cities were telegraphing us to know what we were prepared to do in conjunction with the municipalities for the relief of unemployment. I think you will agree with me that it would not have been wise, in view of the conditions which then prevailed to invite immigration of that character. Therefore we set about co-ordinating the activities of the transportation companies and our own activities in Great Britain and on the Continent for the purpose of bringing to Canada people whom we thought we could assimilate, and they are coming forward to a much larger degree than they were 'one year ago. Our port reports for the past three months indicate a one hundred per cent increase over last year. We have not as large an influx from the United States as we had a year ago, but probably it will come later. Let me say to my hon. friends opposite, and especially to those who are agriculturists, that while conditions are bad in Canada all they have to do is to cross the line and they will find out that agricultural conditions are even worse in the United States where they are having, as I pointed out, perhaps the greatest expansion in a business way in their history. Now, that does not tend to make it easy to attract settlers from that country.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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May 16, 1923